Metaphors for writer’s block and other cliches.

I wrote this a few weeks ago when I couldn’t think of anything else to write, which was kind of refreshing because writing about the fact that I couldn’t write actually ended up helping me to write… Anyway, I shared it with my writer’s group and they all really liked it, so I thought I might share it with the rest of you as well because… well, why not?

 

I’m dying to write more often, but I’m finding that every time I sit down to look at a page, my mind goes completely blank. This weird whirring sound begins in my brain and my eyes tend to glaze over. What is that about? It used to be that I could get the words to start pouring out of me if I tipped my lexical pitcher just enough. Now, however, it seems like that pitcher is full of molasses instead of lemonade. It’s not that there aren’t any words at all within me (I always have words, ask anyone who has ever engaged in a conversation with me), but instead it’s like they’re all locking themselves up in some tower in my mind. They’re rebellious teenagers who refuse to come out for dinner. It’s infuriating. Almost as infuriating as the fact that I’ve switched metaphors three times within this paragraph.

 

So I’m getting the axe (and sticking with the locked up metaphor) and I’m busting down that door and marching those words downstairs because they’re mine, dammit, and I make the rules. Right? Ugh, I sound like my father… And you know what? Just like moody teenagers, words are going to do what words want to do whether you like it or not. Sure, you can force them to come out, but they won’t behave properly. They’ll still have an attitude. They’ll interact as minimally as possible and when they do manage to come up with a sentence, it’ll be a grumpy one that leaves you feeling hurt in a way you didn’t think possible.

 

So what do I do? I could go on a writer’s retreat. Take my words camping and get them to come out of that protective shell they have built so carefully around themselves a little bit! We’ll relax out in nature and interact with other words from other families! It’ll be refreshing! Until we get home and three days after the fact, we’re back in the same old place. The words are up in their tower and I’m down in the living room, just trying to figure out what changed.

 

So I guess the answer is to just keep trying. Keep interacting. Keep waking up every morning and making breakfast for the words. Keep going back to the words and keep trying to have a positive interaction with them until one day you’re having a full-on grand time with them. Sentence after sentence is happening and before you know it, you and your words have bonded and there’s a story there. It’s a story that you and your words will tell for decades and it’ll be your thing that the two of you have and that no one can ever really take away from you.

 

And then they’ll go back to being moody for a little while, and thus the cycle repeats itself.

 

But the stories will be the things that you think of at the end of it all when it comes to your words. It won’t be all the locked doors or silent treatments, but it’ll be the stories that the two of you created together. And, hopefully, you’ll end up closing your eyes and thinking, “Damn. We did good work.”

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4 Responses to Metaphors for writer’s block and other cliches.

  1. trillie says:

    I’m sorry if this is a very boring comment without any metaphors, but I get most of my inspiration while walking or cycling. It works best if I write some until I get stuck, then go for a walk and can then continue, but who has time for that, right?

  2. Kay Nyman says:

    This is brilliant, and entirely applies to art as well. Love it!

  3. When my words refuse to come out and play, I threaten to just ignore them. “Fine, Words, I’ll just be over here…dusting. (I hate dusting.) Don’t even think about disturbing me. I’ve got better things to do!” Works like a charm every time. Out they come running so fast, it’s hard to get them all down quick enough. Of course, if all else fails, you can threaten to take their smartphone and/or computer away from them.
    BTW, this is the first time I’ve been on your site. Great stories so far. I feel like your teenage words and my teenage words just got together for a weird kind of playdate. ☺

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